The Monk’s Podcast 53 with Krishna Abishek Prabhu – Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s inclusive presentation of bhakti
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The Monk’s Podcast 52 with Deva Madhava – How to share the Krishna conception of God in today’s world
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The Monk’s Podcast 51 with Bhanu Maharaj – Why science and scripture see reality differently
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Transcription :

The Monk’s podcast – Why science and scripture see reality differently with HH Bhanu Swami Maharaj.

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu succinct from 1.19.44:
“So, we tried to discuss our left brain, right brain approaches to Scripture. And then you started by how this brain researcher, she had a different way of looking after a stroke. So, that’s one scientific way of saying that, you know, the science way of looking at reality is not the only way. Another layers of chances are through all paranormal research, where there is various kinds of research done in Stanford and other places.

We could say that our Bhagavatam cosmology is also another way of looking at reality. And within science itself, there are different ways. There is quantum physics which sees reality very differently from Newtonian physics. So, if within science itself, there are different ways of looking at reality, then there could be some ways which are outside science also. And scripture offers us that view. Sukadev Goswami is himself a yogi, so he’s giving a vision of the universe that is meant to increase appreciation for the Lord; that how the Lord accommodates various living beings at various levels. And from that purpose, that is way the 5th fifth Canto cosmology is described. Even in our tradition, they have been comfortable with different ways of looking at the universe. The scientists like Aryabhatta, Bhaskaracharya, they were both Brahmins, so they accepted the Puranas, and they also accepted Jyotish Shastras.

Then there is the question that, how much of this is depictable? It’s very difficult to depict because it’s more in terms of visuals or images. Some depictions can be done. But we don’t have to literally insist that this is the way it is. And certainly, we don’t have to think that the scientific way is wrong.

The Bhagavatam’s description can be both symbolic and real, or metaphorical and metaphysical – both. Then you talked about the pendulum; say one way is that to say that science is wrong; and the other is to say scripture is imaginary. But the balanced way would be to say that science has one way of looking and the scripture has another way of looking. And then with respect to tradition- if it’s traditional, it needn’t be made into a major faith issue that if you can’t accept this, then you are a heretic, but rather accept the principles accept the principles. You can put aside the other details if you can’t accept them. There are ways in which the conflicts and the details can be resolved.

And you talked about how religion without realization becomes fanatical. The “Bhaavgrahi and Saragrahi”. So, the Sahagrahi means to focus on gaining the realisation and to encourage people to take up the process by which they can get the realization and not put in unnecessary obstacles. So, we can have a compartmentalization that science has a jurisdiction for empirical knowledge, and scripture talks about transcendental matters. When scripture gives us a view […]

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Gita key verses course 32 What does Gita say about the caste system Does the Gita support social justice – Gita 09.32
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The Monk’s Podcast 43 with Braja Bihari Prabhu – How to disagree without being disagreeable
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Transcription :

The Monks podcast with Braja Bihari Prabhu- How to disagree without being disagreeable

Summary of the podcast @1.34.07:

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu: We discussed about this topic on how to disagree without being disagreeable. You started with your journey of how you started exploring conflict resolution, and then you created structures which are across the world now. Devotees can access these in various ways, i.e. the website. And then we discussed whether devotees have more conflicts or less than others? So, there were some common factors:

1. Information
2. Relationships
3. Structures and values.

But beyond that, it is our own identity. Our investment in our identity that can cause conflicts, especially in religion faith-based organizations like ours. I think that and values were the main part of our remaining discussion. So, it is amazing, you quoted Prabhupada saying that we should appreciate people even who are not devotees and then what to speak of devotees. And that appreciation or that broad-mindedness, it can come if we learn to see others as devotees, not just see them and reduce them to the position that is problematic for us. You also talk about “I” messages, which is more about expressing vulnerability rather than expressing judgment about the other person. If we focus on the fact that we all have the same ultimate purpose, then we can minimize differences.

Sometimes, because we emphasize philosophy, so, we reduce people to philosophical categories, seeing them as multifaceted beings. Prabhupada has given many examples of him being philosophical, by having differences, but being culturally friendly. Then you also made this point that the resolution can be based on three ways:

1. Power- based,
2. Rights- based
3. Interest- based

Most resolutions are power- based. So, when a call for cooperation seems to be like a deference to authority, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if it is operational.

We talked also a little bit about social media and how it can unnecessarily spread negative vibrations. But there is a means by which devotees can express their grievances and have things addressed.

And toward the end, we talked about how we have created space for devotees by provisions like; different devotees can have different outreach centres in the same city. So that means we appreciate each other but we try to have space for ourselves. And in that way, we can have unity in diversity like a like a set of flowers in a flower vase.
So, this was a very illuminating discussion. Any concluding words you want to say?

Braja Bihari Prabhu: “No, but just what you just did summarize is one of the best ways to have a good rapport with other devotees. Because it shows that you were respectful enough to listen. And when you summarize like that, it’s also if you’re having a dialogue or you know debate, it’s great to summarize the other person’s points before you make your own because the person will feel much more ‘Oh yes, he’s understood me’. “

Chaitanya Charan Prabhu: “Okay”.

Braja Bihari Prabhu: So, it’s very […]

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The Monk’s Podcast 39 with Madhavananda Prabhu – Nourishing our individuality within a bhakti institution
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QA on humility 4 – Social media requires self-promotion, spiritual growth requires humility – how to reconcile?
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Answer Podcast


The po…

What is the relationship between Maya and the Three Modes of Nature?
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From: Muralidhara dasa

Is Maya one of the characteristics of the three modes of nature – the capacity to cover one’s ability to perceive the truth (avarna sakthi) and the capacity to projects other than the truth (viksepa sakti)? Is the mind the manifestation of this maya energy?

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Transcription :

Transcriber: Keshavgopal Das

Question: What is the relationship between Maya and the three modes of nature?

Answer: In scriptures, the word Maya is used differently depending upon the context. I will try to answer in principle from a broader perspective.

From linguistic point of view, Maya means “that (ya) which is not (ma)”. That means our ascribing to a property to an object which is not there in it. Maya does not mean that nothing exists. What Maya means is that we think of an object as something which the object is not. For example, when there is a mirage, a person may see water in a desert. It is not that the water or desert is not a reality, but seeing the water in a desert when the water is not present there is due to illusion. Similarly, thinking of material (temporary) to be spiritual (eternal) is an illusion (or Maya). Both material and spiritual are real, but to ascribe the property of one to the other is an illusion.

From the perspective of implementation mechanism, i.e. how this illusion is brought about, there is a complete process involve in it. In that process, Maya, three modes of material nature, mind form a hierarchy in the chain of command. You may have seen a picture in Bhagavad-gita, where three females are holding ropes and moving people around. So, these female personalities holding ropes are the modes. Maya Devi acts through these three females on our mind. From functional point of view, Maya and mind are non-different.

When we say somebody is falling in Maya, it means that the person’s mind is deluding the person. It is not that there is some place called Maya and the person is falling into a ditch. From ontological point of view, (ontology means what really exists), mind and Maya are different. Mind is subtle material energy of Krishna, which exists as part of our subtle body. Whereas Maya is another energy of Krishna, a very powerful demigoddess who is a person. She is not subtle matter, but a conscious living being. She is the consort of Lord Shiva. She is also the devotee of Supreme Lord. Her service to Krishna is to purify us by tempting us in the wrong direction to make us realize the futility of succumbing to the wrong temptations.

Maya acts upon us through three modes of material nature. Mode of goodness covers us in a certain way and make us think of as someone and makes us desirable of certain things. In mode of goodness, I can think myself as an intellectual, as a scholar, and start thinking that when I go around the world, I […]

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How can we decide the upper limit of tolerance?
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Answer Podcast
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Transcription :

Transcriber: Suresh Gupta

Question: How can we decide the upper limit of tolerance?

Answer: The level of tolerance can not be determined during our own phase of intolerance because when we are angry, even a small misbehaviour seems intolerant and when we are in a good mood, even a big problem seems manageable. That is why, even if somebody is angry unreasonably, we should not act impulsively. The best option is to “press the pause button”.
Basically, in any situation that we are in, there are three options –
(i) change the situation or the person,
(ii) change ourselves or
(iii) just walk away from the situation.
Walking away is not running away, it is a mature thoughtful choice.

If somebody is working in a job and he finds the job very difficult, it maybe because the boss is very demanding, or colleagues are very troublesome. So, one can try to communicate better with them and understand their concerns or one can try to go to a different team. The reason could also be due to lack of skills which we can try to learn and develop. Therefore, ideally, there are three options and at different times different options can be chosen.

In the Mahabharata, initially when the Pandavas came, at that time, the Kauravas did many terrible things to them. There was an incident where the Kauravas tried to poison Bhima but fortunately he was protected. When Yudhishthira came to know about this, he decided not to tell anyone in order to avoid a family feud. Eventually, the Pandavas were sent to Varnavrat and an attempt was made to burn them alive. However, the attempt was foiled and the Pandavas were saved and after returning back to the kingdom, they again did not accuse the Kauravas for trying to burn them alive. Later, Dhritarashtra gave Pandavas a part of the kingdom to settle the feud between the brothers but again it was an unfair settlement since the Pandavas were given a Khandava (a barren land). Still, the Pandavas accepted it and kept tolerating. But eventually, when the Kauravas dishonoured Draupadi, at that time, a particular line was crossed which led to the possibility of a war. Even then, Krishna went as shantidoota (peace messenger) and tried to settle the feud peacefully so as to avoid the war, but Duryodhana was completely adamant. The Pandavas understood that this was not a time for tolerance but a time for active and assertive action. However, this was not based on impulse. Before the war took place, every possible action to avoid the war was taken.

We have to understand that tolerance does not mean that we let others trample us. Tolerance simply means that we don’t let small things come in the way of big things. Our practice of Krishna bhakti is most important to us but while practicing it, if some small things go wrong, and we get too overwhelmed by it, then we cannot practice Krishna bhakti very nicely. For example, […]

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When natural calamities disrupt our lives beyond tolerance point, what can we do other than pray?
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From Rekha Mathkarr Mataji

I believe and trust Krishna and follow all the scriptural regulations, but what we are experienceing weather wise in united States is beyond tolerance. Since last two wks.there are snow storms after snow storms. People are striended at airport unable to rich there destination. Schools are closed. People are unable to go to work. Elderly people like me are unable to see Dr.and stuck at home unable to get groceries.
How do you apply Gita wisdom in such situations?
Is there anything left to us other than keep praying?

Answer Podcast


Transcription :

Transcriber: Suresh Gupta

Edited by: Keshavgopal das

Question: When natural calamities disrupt our lives beyond tolerance point, what can we do other than pray?

Answer: These are very difficult situations which sometime come upon us by the very nature of this material world. As devotees, we can see this at three different levels. At first level, we see it as a practical problem which requires practical solution. Devotees should not live in a eutopia thinking that problems will not come upon us and be prepared to deal with them. When devotees would go out in cold for harinam sankirtan, Prabhupada would ask them to wear proper clothes to keep warm.

Secondly, at a philosophical level we see how this is confirmation of the Vedic teachings that this world is a place of misery (dukhalayam) and things can go wrong at any time (ashashvatam). Our situation can be reduced from “comfort” to “misery and helplessness” in a moment. However, such teachings do not mean that we develop a pessimistic attitude towards life. Rather, we should become intelligently realistic.

Vedic culture has two aspects – (i) practical preparedness and (ii) philosophical preparedness. Practical preparedness means that when natural calamities come, we do not reason that it is due to past karma, rather do what is required. We see this in the example of Prithu Maharaj in Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 4. Philosophical preparedness means that we have a realistic outlook towards life. Krishna consciousness is not just a cosmetic philosophy offering rosy picture of life. Rather, it can be emetic, where it purges out our misconceptions and forces us to understand the reality of this world. Calamities can act as eye openers and educators, in this regard.

At a practical level, there will be inconveniences and we will have to deal with them in all possible ways. Vedic culture did not just have brahmanas who gave philosophical education, but also had kshatriyas who would make sure that administration is taken care off. ISKCON, at this stage, is primarily focusing on developing brahmanical community. However, as the spiritual culture starts to spread, there will also emerge a kshatriya community of responsible administrators who will administer society competently to ensure that society is prepared for calamities.
Thirdly, at a personal spiritual level, we can see this as an opportunity to pray and take shelter of Krishna. There is nothing wrong to pray in emergency situations. It is not considered contamination to pure devotional service. Along with that, we […]

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